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Winter is Coming: How to Brace for Freelance Cold Periods

  • By James Bennett II
  • November 25, 2020

The freelance lifestyle is an attractive one. But with all of the flexibility comes the reality that work might not always be as regular as we would like. While we all go through these cold periods, you don’t need to roll over and cry your eyes out because of a slow month. Before the bracing cold, take these preventative measures so that your lean season won’t sideline you indefinitely.

Set Up a Savings Account

Stowing away your funds in a savings account isn’t just a good move for freelancing cold periods. It’s a good life move in general. Getting your savings started is as simple as walking into your bank and saying, “hey, yeah let’s get this savings account set up”, but with some research, you can make that account work for you. Don’t get a savings account that’s practically a grave for your funds, because the last thing you want to see is zero growth from all the money you’re conscientiously stowing away. So be sure to look out for a high yield savings account— a decent APY could net you a nice chunk of cash after the year is over. And if you’re super-ambitious, join a credit union. The big difference between credit unions and banks is that the former is not-for-profit, but the latter pays back out to shareholders. As a credit union member, you’re a part owner. Which means that profits are kicked back to you via attractive savings rates and loan rates. It may not be the sexiest option, but getting your bank accounts in line should be the first step to weather any financial storm.

Passive Income Streams for Freelancers

Taking advantage of passive income opportunities isn’t an instantly attractive course of action, and it’s not hard to see why. Like the returns from a solid savings account, you won’t be lining your pockets with passive income every month. But if you get the wheels turning on enough of these streams and those small gains start to add up. You also have no excuse because all the effort comes in signing up. The point is that it’s passive income— so you’re not worrying about deadlines or assignments. You’re doing next to nothing. There’re loads of apps out there that you can install that will keep the greenbacks coming in. A popular one is Swagbucks, which pays you for taking short surveys. MyPoints is another worth checking out; it gives you cashback for shopping at online retailers like Amazon and Target!

Active Income Streams for Freelancers

While your passive income streams are giving you a few extra bucks a month, kick it up a notch and start a side hustle. The upside to a part-time gig is that you’ll most likely be doing something that you love. Fancy yourself a writer? Work towards contributor status on a burgeoning blog. Like to cook? Instead of going out to eat, act the chef or restaurateur for a group of friends. Depending on how labor intensive your projects are, your gig can fit seamlessly into your schedule and you can work on it when you get the chance. And who knows, maybe it will unexpectedly take off and you’ll have your very own small business on your hands.

Sublet and Move Home

This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you can make it work you definitely should give it a go. When you’re freelance projects don’t involve face-to-face client interactions, then perhaps you should try to Airbnb your spot and ask your parents if you can head back home to crash for a while. Even if family won’t let you live rent free, you still might get a steep discount. And in the event that you’re paying full price, that rent could be crumbs compared to what you’re paying in a high-cost city like New York or San Francisco. True, it’s not the best thing for your social life. But there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and getting your life back in order.

Reassess Your Subscription Services

In trying to cut the cord, your pile of subscriptions could sabotage your money saving plan. Instead of paying for a full cable package, you signed up for Netflix at $8. But you realize they don’t have your favorite TV offerings, so you need Hulu as well. And you’re hearing good reviews about that new show that somehow got picked up exclusively by Amazon, so you plunk down a fat Franklin for an annual service. And Game of Thrones is coming back? Better take advantage of HBO’s subscription service. Add it all up, and you’re saddled with bills that could go towards debt payments or groceries. And that’s before you start accounting for music services, cooking subscriptions, magazines, or snack deliveries.
Here’s how you can stop hemorrhaging money. Pick only one or two services that are super-important to you, and then collaborate. Maybe you keep your Netflix and another friend keeps Hulu. You’re getting all of your friends to save money while encouraging IRL interactions. That’s a beautiful thing. It works for music too. Don’t pay for Apple music. Suggest a Frank Ocean Listening party, then return the favor the next time some crazy botched release is exclusively streaming on TIDAL or Spotify. And for those food services? Learn to cook— it’s way more fun than you’d think.

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